Posts Tagged ‘Teenagers’

Your High School Senior is NOT a Responsible Adult, No Matter HOW Well You Think You Raised Him

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You’ve no doubt heard the tragic story about Matt James, the 17-year-old All American high school student and top recruit for Notre Dame who, while on spring break in Florida, fell to his death from a fifth-floor balcony of a hotel. Because he was DRUNK.

Now, I did my fair share of drinking in high school. I’d also be lying to you if I said I didn’t do drugs before I turned 18.

HOWEVER, I never got to do drugs or drink while 3,000 miles away from home because my parents were NOT IDIOTS. Hell, they knew that just letting me go on a senior trip to DISNEYLAND (which is a 6 hour drive from my house) could be trouble, so I was forbidden to go. And I really don’t think it was because they knew that I’d been smoking pot here and there or drinking beer and wine coolers at makeshift parties underneath oak trees behind the local high school. I believe that they knew that I was an impressionable teenager, and in a big group of other impressionable teenagers, I’d give in to peer pressure and somehow wind up hurt.

So, on Easter Sunday, while reading all of the reports that surfaced about Matt James, my husband and I made a pact that if our children ever asked to go away on one of those spring break or graduation trips, our answer would be a very loud “NO.”

The VERY NEXT DAY, I received the email below from my niece, Lisa. The story you are about to read is TRUE, and has not been edited or modified in any way (except for my adding paragraph breaks, because you all know I’m a control freak and I need to see white space between organized thoughts or I’ll lose my mind).

The story below is about my cousin Jacob. This story was printed in the Rio Americano PSTA Newsletter. My Aunt Cheryl wrote this a few years ago after Jacob’s Graduation Trip.


Our vigilance as parents begins at birth and continues as our children grow older. Then why, when they turn 18 and graduate from High School, do we relax that effort? Many of us allow our seniors to embark on a graduation trip that for most of them is their first experience with complete independence — an experience shared with hundreds if not thousands of other CHILDREN.

If you are considering one of these trips for your child, please let me share my family’s experience when we made that same choice. “Be careful,” “stay safe,” and “make good choices,” were all words of advice given to my son as he departed for Hawaii after graduating from Del Campo in 2003. What were my husband and I thinking?

Yes, he was traveling with a reputable travel company. Yes, we had informed him of all of the rules. Most importantly, yes, we should have known better.

These were 18-year-olds on vacation held accountable only to themselves (and of course their parents an ocean away). The companies that promote these trips are not accountable for your child’s safety. They are merely providing an adult on the property if your child seeks their help. Their brochures state their zero tolerance policy. This policy is only effective when enforced. Some of the students on these trips are following the rules but many more are using alcohol and drugs, making choices you might never expect them to make.

Choices they themselves might never make under different circumstances.

You might think that because your child has never been in trouble and is involved in sports or other activities that if anything happens, it will be to “someone else” not your child. My son was that “someone else”.

I don’t have all the answers as to what happened in Hawaii. What I do know is that my husband and I  received the phone call that every parent dreads. When you are asked to be seated before the conversation can continue, no matter how much you pray the words coming from the other end of the phone won’t come, they do.

We were informed that our son was fighting for his life after surviving a fall from a third floor window. So badly I wanted to go back 6 months to when the brochure for this trip first came home. Desperately I wanted to go back 3 months to when the trip was paid in full. I begged the Lord to take me back to that June morning when we said goodbye to our son and sent him on his way. There was no going back.

My husband and I were on the earliest flight to Hawaii praying the hospital could keep our son alive until we reached him. The first sign that he would ever come home from his “fun filled” graduation trip to Hawaii came days after our arrival, a squeeze of my finger indicating that he knew we were by his side . . .

It took many days for him to be removed from a ventilator and begin breathing on his own. We were blessed after spending weeks by our son’s side in an intensive care unit to bring him home. His life has changed forever along with the lives of many of those who went through this experience with him.

If a graduation trip away from home is something you are considering for your senior, please learn from my family’s experience. I challenge you to find a student who has experienced a week on a graduation trip. Find out what really goes on. Surprisingly, those colorful brochures tend to leave some things out.

If you still choose to allow your CHILD to go, hold them accountable by speaking to them everyday and for more than 5 minutes. Impress upon them that if they see a friend in trouble, seek help immediately.

The importance of being a vigilant parent with your graduating senior should equal the efforts put forth when they were toddlers. They are still counting on you to make the right decision. Their life could depend on it.

Please don’t let the next “someone else” be your child.

Cheryl Rommel
(cr_grad [at]

I. was. FLOORED. I had no idea that this had happened to someone that was in my circle of influence.

I replied immediately and asked if she thought her aunt would allow me to post the story on my blog, to which she replied:

The other kids that were there slipped my cousin something and thought it was funny when he was tripped out and [started] acting very odd. This went on for about 3 days before anyone called an adult to check on him. They took him to the hospital when he starting hallucinating and taking showers with his clothes on.  He was being treated on the 3rd floor of the hospital and because he was hallucinating, he thought the doctors and nurses were aliens that we trying to abduct him. So he ran from them and jumped out of the 3rd story window. Crazy!!

I’m sure she wouldn’t mind. I’ll send her a message and let you know as soon as she gets back to me. I’m sure she’d like this to spread so that it will help others.

Wow. Did you read that? Jacob had NOTHING to do what happened. It was the OTHER kids.

Just knowing that this happened to someone near and dear to my family gives me all the ammunition I need to resist the urge to give in to a request for a week in Lake Havasu or Cancun. No thank you.


04 2010

Underage Drinking: Part II

Thank you to everyone who wrote to me privately and added comments to my teenage drinking story. I’m grateful to have you all as readers.

I’m not sure how I’m going to approach this person (and person’s spouse) to let them know that their actions are threatening my family’s ability to interact with them. Being around angry drunk people is uncomfortable. And, we’ve come to find that being around them (or just talking to them on the phone) a few days after they’ve done something stupid (while drunk) is also somewhat challenging. I personally am pissed off that they allowed teenagers to party on a houseboat while my son was on board. (He was supposed to be there having fun with his very active grandmother, but instead they had to maintain a safe distance from the partygoers–which is a difficult task on a houseboat.) Apparently, these people have no concept of liability.

My family is my life. I would do anything for–and to protect–my boys. I’m mad that someone elses’ actions put one of my sons in danger. I’m mad that I only just found out about the incident fairly recently, although it happened last summer. And I’m fuming mad that they’re allowing their teenager to drink and party at their house with classmates. What kind of example is this setting for the younger sibling? I, personally, think the kids are doomed.

As far as my my own family is concerned, I know that as my sons get older, I’ll never be able to keep them from doing what they choose to do. I can only raise them the best that I can (along with my husband), and hope that they make the right choices.

My husband and I both remember partying in high school. Yes, we drank. And, looking back, we also made some choices that we both regret. We hope to explain those things to our sons.

In retrospect, we could only think of instances where parties occurred after games, dances, or because someone’s parents were out of town: all times where booze was scored for us by older siblings or some guy at the gas station. Never, EVER, did I go to a friend’s house where the parents were home and handing out cups at the door.

That being said, we will be having several discussions with our boys about drugs and alcohol. We want them to know that it’s not okay to be drinking while underage or to be using drugs. But, we do want them to know that–should the time ever come where they’re at a party and they need a ride home because they’re either a) with someone who is too drunk to drive or, b) too drunk to drive themselves–they can call their parents for help and we will go get them . . . no questions asked. (Until morning.)

This doesn’t mean that we’ll condone letting them use us as a “taxi service for the drunk and/or drugged out,” we just want them to trust us enough to know that we are there for them when they need us the most, and choose to turn to us, instead of making the decision to get in the car and drive drunk or drive with someone who has had too much to drink. At home and hungover is much better than dead on the side of the road.

AND, I don’t want that choice in someone elses’ hands. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor doesn’t make you a cool parent. Saying that it’s okay to give a teenager alcohol while they’re at your house because you won’t allow them to drive anywhere afterwards doesn’t make you a responsible parent. Doing these things just makes you an ignorant parent.


01 2008

“I’d Rather Have Them Drinking Here Than Out Doing Whatever”

*Sigh* This could be the riskiest post I’ve ever done, and it will undoubtedly yield lots of trouble for me (and possibly my husband). I’m going to put a “hypothetical” out there to you with the hope that you will respond to it with comments containing words of wisdom that my husband and I have yet to find.

And, just for the sake of this post, I’ll be assuming the role of another person.

[CosmoMama is now putting on someone elses' shoes. Reluctantly.]

Let’s say that I have a father with a long history of alcoholism, and have taken him from the hospital and to rehab as recently as a week ago.

Let’s also say that I have two teenage daughters: One is in high school (not yet 18), the other in middle school.

And, for the sake of background, let’s say that I’ve allowed my oldest daughter to have friends on our family’s houseboat (which is docked at the river year-round), during which time I’ve allowed her and said friends to drink alcohol around the rest of my family (including my mother, my younger son, and my four-year-old nephew).

Let’s add to that the fact that I thought it a good idea to give my oldest daugher a drinking game for Christmas, and have allowed–on at least one occasion–her friends (male and female) to come over for a party where there would be alcohol. I justify this by saying that I’d never let them leave the house once they’re in, and hide their keys until the morning, and can be glad that they’re partying in my own house where I can see them instead of doing “God knows what” somewhere else. (I can also justify it by saying that I’ve called the kids’ parents to let them know about the party.)

Finally, let’s say that I can get my own drink on and do a damn fine job of doing it. My husband is a drinker too, and sometimes we get so drunk that we begin to fight with each other and sometimes come to blows.

How am I doing as a mom? What would you think of me? What would you think of my husband? What would you say to me if you were the parent of one of my daugher’s friends? Or the parent of my nephew?

What could happen to me legally? What would happen to my daughter of one of her friends decided to turn on her cell phone camera and record a crowd of 17-year-olds drinking at my house and posting it on MySpace or Facebook? Could she get into trouble at school? If something were to have happened at the houseboat, who is responsible?

[CosmoMama now taking off other person's shoes]

Please, help me figure out what to say to this person. The light upstairs is on but he/she is so obviously not home!


01 2008

“What Can I Buy For a Dollar?”

There I was, this past Saturday afternoon, committing a number of offenses as I stood in line for a cookie at Mrs. Fields . . .

(first of all, I was at the mall–someplace I’d sworn not to go during Christmas time; then I’d told my husband I was going to go “look around” while he sat and watched Jake at the play area, when I knew exactly where I wanted to go; and then there was the Weight Watchers points I was wasting . . .)

. . . when I noticed a young girl in front of me in line, looking impatient and somewhat distressed while reading the offerings that the combined Mrs. Fields/TCBY shop had up on the menu. She was nicely dressed and was wearing makeup, and I guesstimated her age to be about 17. When the employee said, “Next in line, please,” the young girl went to the counter and, looking quite embarrassed, asked:

“What can I get here for a dollar?”

A group of girls behind me laughed out loud, and the question had also drawn a few puzzled looks from a couple of the customers that were still standing in line–myself included.

“Uh . . . I think you can get a soda, if you work at the mall,” said the shop employee, “or one mini cookie.”

The young girl sighed, mumbled something under her breath, and then turned and joined the group of girls that had been giggling at her earlier.

That got me thinking: What can I buy for a dollar?

Hardly anything at the mall, unless I was at McDonald’s, and you all know how I feel about them right now.

I went back to the play area and asked my husband the same question. Caught off guard, he couldn’t think of one thing.

I’ve since had some time to think about it, and came up with a list of at least 25 things (both food and non-food items) that I could buy with one dollar (or less):

  1. A can of tuna
  2. A regular-sized candy bar
  3. Chewing gum
  4. A discount greeting card
  5. A package of applesauce
  6. Travel-size tooth paste (and an assortment of other travel-sized essentials, found at Target for around .50 cents)
  7. A scratch pad
  8. Two pencils
  9. One Taco Bell crunchy taco
  10. A lottery ticket
  11. A can of soda
  12. A small bag of sunflower seeds
  13. A lighter (if you don’t plan on stealing one, a-la Britney Spears)
  14. Dollar store items, such as kitchen utensils, wrapping paper, daily planners, party favors, etc. (Too many to list!)
  15. Two USPS first-class stamps
  16. A small tub of vaseline
  17. A generic bar of soap
  18. A holiday cookie tin (WalMart has them 3/$1), and other seasonal items at WalMart
  19. A glazed old-fashioned donut, or any other “non-fancy style” donut
  20. Peanut butter and cracker snack from a vending machine (and other vending machine snacks)
  21. A purse-sized package of Kleenex
  22. A plastic ruler
  23. A small notebook
  24. A vanilla cone from IKEA
  25. And, for you McDonald’s die hards, a double cheeseburger from the super value menu

I’m sure there are hundreds of things you can still buy for a buck. In my quest to become a frugal mom, I’m sure I’ll become familiar with all of them.


12 2007

“Young People Who Rock”: Cell Phones For Soldiers

I’ve been following the “Young People Who Rock” blog for a while now, and I thought I’d share one of the most recent posts:

Monday, December 10, 2007
Cell Phones for Soldiers

“Hey mom … I love you and miss you, but I’m pretty busy … so gotta go … Bye.”

I talk to my mom several times a day, and probably like a lot of people, I take it for granted. That’s a feeling that only gets stronger when you consider soldiers who are in a war zone this holiday season and how expensive calling loved ones overseas can be.

When Brittany and Robbie Bergquist of Norwell, Massachusetts, heard of a soldier having to pay almost $8,000 for a phone bill to call his family from Iraq, they wanted to do something. With $21, the brother and sister duo, then 12 and 13, respectively, started Cell Phones for Soldiers. The organization turns old cell phones into minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas.

People donate their old phones to the teens. They came up with the idea to sell them to a recycler for $5 and use the money to buy calling cards. Since they started three years ago, the pair has raised more than $1 million in donations and sent 400,000 minutes to troops. They hope to increase that amount nearly tenfold in the next five years so that more soldiers can call and say, “Hey, Mom.”


12 2007